Information for parents

Information for parents

Parents and guardians can play an important role in educating young people about the dangers and risks associated with drug or alcohol misuse.

Why do young people use substances?

It’s important to remember that not all young people will experiment with or misuse drugs or alcohol. For those that do, not all will come to any direct harm as a result. However, misuse of drugs or alcohol present a number of risks to health and wellbeing.

There are a variety of reasons why young people might experiment with or misuse drugs or alcohol. It could be out of simple curiosity; something that perhaps seems cool or fun. It might be a way to fit in with their peers. Or it could be an escape from whatever issues they have going on.

Young people’s drug and alcohol use

Our recent survey of 2,500 secondary schoolchildren in England found:

  • The pressures of social media are driving some girls to take drugs to stay thin and some boys to take substances to build muscle.
  • Stress, anxiety and low mood are common among young people – some are taking cannabis, alcohol and benzodiazepines such as Xanax to try to cope.
  • Party drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine are seen as safe by many schoolchildren.
  • Many teenagers are regularly binge drinking alcohol.

We can offer informative sessions to help teachers and practitioners better identify pupils who may be living with parents, carers or siblings that are misusing substances.

What can parents do?

Parents can play a crucial role by helping to put in place protective factors that help build a young person’s resilience. These include:

  • Building positive, open communication
  • Ensuring the child feels respected and cared for
  • Having positive experiences and achievements
  • Encouraging positive relationships with friends/peers

Making conversation

From both the parents’ and the young person’s point of view, it can feel daunting to broach the topic of drugs and alcohol.

We asked young people why they might avoid a conversation with their parents about drugs and alcohol. The reasons included:

  • Parents might react negatively or angrily
  • Parents might think less of them
  • They would get into trouble
  • Parents might end up overreacting
  • The experience would be awkward and uncomfortable

As a parent, it’s important that you take these fears into consideration when planning your conversation.

Encourage an honest and open dialogue with your child

  1. Listen
  2. Stay calm
  3. Avoid scare tactics or being overly confrontational
  4. Be non-judgmental about their thoughts/choices
  5. Show empathy/understanding

Download our free guide

Engaging with parents

Parents are often very busy people but it is crucial to find the time and opportunity to engage with them on issues around drugs and alcohol. In some schools we ‘piggyback’ on to parents’ evenings to share information and deliver sessions about our drug and alcohol education work.

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